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Get Off The WALL! With Zack Esposito

Get Off The WALL! With Zack Esposito

In Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) the original idea was to put different fighting styles together so that one style could be determined to be the winner. In a perfect world the match would be held in a giant warehouse so the likelihood of outside interference or walls would not get in the way.

This is an impractical idea for a sport, so to contain the two fighters to a certain area the UFC used a cage. Pride used a boxing ring with 5 ropes but this always turned into a mess with fighters falling through, getting tangled in the ropes and in one instance the ropes being used offensively to strangle someone.

So the cage creates a strong barrier to keep the fighters contained in the fighting area. This barrier can also be used to the advantage of fighters who know how to use it. Matt Hughes notably would double leg his opponents, run them to his corner (so his coaches could give him instructions he could hear) and slam them close to the cage.

Current Lightweight King and phenomenal wrestler Khabib Nurmagomedov also has used the cage to his advantage. He is known for wrestling his opponent close to the cage. Hitting a simple single or double leg where his opponents back is to the cage then using a leg vine to immobilize his opponents  from standing. Then raining bombs on the poor guy until the round is over or they do something stupid like try and roll and give up their back ala Connor.

Staying with the theme of Khabib, look at his fights with Rafael Dos Anjos. Dos Anjos is no pushover, and a BJJ Black belt. Khabib mushed Rafael against the cage, he worked doubles, singles and trips to just maul him. The fact of the matter is Dos Anjos as good as he is did not attempt to wrestle off the wall. Or possibly did not feel he had the ability to.

For many years the “Wall Drill” has been utilized by MMA Coaches. The theory is simple, you get off the wall, the other guys job is to keep you on the wall or take you down. It is exhausting, and teaches both athletes how to be the hammer and the nail!

Check out OSU Coach Zack Esposito doing the drill below!


Zack has decided to up the difficulty level on the wall drill, by putting himself into a corner. If you watch how both of these guys move in the drill it is obvious you need to have a underhook and a overhook. So a driver arm and a pulling arm.

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The goal is to circle our partner 180 degrees into the corner!

Two underhooks while the prime position in most wrestling styles requires the attacking wrestler to get their hips out behind them to push their upper body into their opponents. When there is a barrier like a wall or a cage behind a fighter, it becomes impossible or increasingly more difficult to create the leverage and angle you need to utilize the double unders.

On the other side of the equation a double under is hard to maintain against a wall because of a few factors. You cant break their posture as the wall is holding them up. Second you can get your arms locked behind them and the wall. Yet if the attacking wrestler changes levels, double legs become easier. There is always risk involved but that is fighting risk vs reward variables.

One of the other tools utilized by Zack is using a leg hook to get his opponent to reset his feet. He also can release the overhook once he has some angle and knee tap and drive his partner around.

This is a great drill to build endurance and toughness in athletes. This is a great drill to do after practice or incorporate into any wrestling program as a fun game! Set a 3 minutes timer and the wrestler not on the wall at the end wins.

Zack is a not only a NCAA Champion and part of the 4 peat OSU National Team Champions. He has also coached some of the best wrestlers to come out of Oklahoma in the last decade.

Names like Alex Dieringer, Oliver Jordan and Chris Perry are all athletes that owe some of their success to Zack’s coaching.

It comes as no surprise with Zack’s style of wrestling that he would come out with an instructional set on the over under position. It is also no surprise he has coached former Champion Johnny “Big Rig” Hendricks who was a Cowboy at OSU.

Who knows who will be the next great American Wrestler who is also an MMA Champion? Whoever they are will have to know how to fight off the wall, and a few throws from the over under wouldn’t hurt!

The Complete Over-Under System by Zack Esposito

In his instructional Zack took an entire segment to touch on the subject of the over under position against the cage for MMA. Zack knows the potential for wrestlers to transition to MMA and this is his way of helping them on that path.